Turkey to hike citizenship-for-homes threshold as sales soar

Turkey to hike citizenship-for-homes threshold as sales soar

Turkey to hike citizenship-for-homes threshold as sales soar

Foreigners looking to buy homes in Turkey to become Turkish citizens will now have to pay more, reports said Wednesday, in a move that comes as sales to foreign buyers, particularly Russians and Ukrainians, are soaring.

The amount that foreigners have to pay for a property and commit to keeping it for at least three years to get a Turkish passport is about to be increased to $400,000 (TL 5.84 million), local media reported, citing a decision discussed at the Cabinet meeting Tuesday.

Ankara adopted the citizenship-for-homes scheme in 2017. A year later it cut the minimum price to $250,000, from $1 million, to attract foreign buyers.

The revised regulation is due to be announced in the Official Gazette soon, reports said.

Some 7,000 foreigners received citizenship via home purchases between 2017 and 2020, the government said last year.

In addition to the real estate, those eligible for citizenship include foreigners who are determined to have made at least a $500,000 investment in the country.

It also includes foreigners determined to employ at least 50 people, those who have deposited at least $500,000 into Turkish banks and kept it there for at least three years, those who have purchased and kept for three years at least $500,000 in government debt, or those who have made a venture capital or property fund purchase of at least $500,000.

Foreign home sales – mainly to Iranians, Iraqis, Russians and Afghans – hit a record 58,576 units in 2021, according to official data, a 43.5% year-over-year increase. The previous annual record was set in 2019 with 45,483 units sold to foreign buyers.

Sales climbed 54.9% in February year-over-year to 4,591 properties, according to official data. Iranians topped the list as they purchased 711 houses, followed by Iraqis with 633 and Russians with 509.

The real estate market has mobilized recently as Russians and Ukrainians fleeing the war have flown to join their relatives residing in Turkey, while others opted for renting or real estate purchases.

Russia launched an invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, triggering stifling Western sanctions.

The January-February house sales jumped 55.5% on an annual basis to 8,843, the data showed.

Sales had accelerated as a depreciation in the Turkish lira made Turkish property more attractive to foreign buyers, with the authorities pursuing the new economic policy of low interest rates to boost credit, exports and investments, saying it would help the country weather inflation.

To support the drive, Turkey’s central bank had brought down the benchmark policy rate by 500 points since September to 14%.

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